Turning the growl of hunger to a purr of sustainable nutrition

Date

May 29, 2019

4 min read

When my stomach growls from hunger, I walk to the fridge, open the door and take whatever looks good. I know that for many people in the world, this is a dream. They have no fridge, little food and no way to ease their hunger pains.

Lack of nutrition is one of the most serious issues in the world today and has important consequences for many different sectors. For example, it hinders education because it reduces the ability of children to learn; it limits livelihoods because malnourished adults – or adults that were severely malnourished as children – have less capacity and energy to work; and it damages health care as by blocking patient responses to treatment. In fact, basic nutrition-related interventions have positive impacts on a range of other development interventions.

As part of its Breaking Boundaries theme, the AVPN Conference 2019 wants to understand why nutrition remains an underfunded issue. It is seeking to improve collective concern for and understanding of this issue among conference participants. Currently malnutrition remains a neglected area of global health and development, accounting for less than 1 percent of global foreign aid.

Some of the organizations participating in the AVPN 2019 annual conference are working hard to address malnutrition in Asia. They aim to create an environment in which all communities have access to appropriate nutrition – and thus the opportunity to reach their full potential. This article highlights some of these efforts.

Nutrition is Good Business

“Investing in nutrition is good business” says Anand Sundaresan, Regional Vice President, APAC, Human and Health Nutrition, “Every year, it is estimated that countries can lose up to 3% of GDP as a result of micronutrient deficiencies, because of the negative impact on health, learning ability and productivity”. DSM, a global purpose-led, science-based company specialising in ‘Nutrition, Health & Sustainable Living’ works at achieving better and more sustainable nutrition for all.

By offering innovative solutions that are backed by scientific evidence and tailored to the needs and context of specific target groups, DSM works with partners to ensure nutritious solutions that are affordable and scalable. These include, for example: post-harvest rice fortification; maternal supplementation; and affordable, nutritious and accessible packaged food.

Sundaresan confirms: “Nutrition interventions have a payoff: for every dollar spent on reducing stunting, there are savings estimated up to USD 166”. He further emphasises that: “At DSM, we believe that a strong society is more than just a strong economy; the objective must be a healthy, functioning society for all”.

More money for nutrition, more nutrition for money

The Power of Nutrition, an innovative charitable foundation, works on helping to end the cycle of undernutrition and to drastically reduce stunting; it has a specific focus on improving mother and child nutrition. “We build collaborative partnerships that enable us to co-finance national programmes that are designed to tackle undernutrition in the critical first 1,000 days of life. One way that we do this is by convening effective partnerships under a single programme working towards systemic and sustainable solutions, to avoid undertaking lots of small and undercoordinated projects”, says CEO, Martin Short.

Its unique financing structure model works across sectors by using new private sector finances to unlock committed public sector resources. This enables the foundation to multiply the new funding it raises by at least four times, thereby maximizing the total investment in these nutrition programmes. Short underlines: “We are committed to not only raising more money for nutrition, but also achieving more nutrition for money!”

The Asia region still bears the greatest burden of undernutrition which “…it remains the underlying cause of 45% of child mortality” confirms Short. “Improving nutrition requires new investment”.

An Approach on Collaboration

Collaboration is key in moving the nutrition discussion forward. Kellogg describes itself as a purpose-driven organisation, a company with a heart and soul. As the world’s largest plant-based food company, the have been on a 100+ year journey to positively impact people and they planet through their foods. In the last 10 years alone, they’ve provided 3 billion servings of food to people in need through their flagship programme Better Days, fighting hunger in communities across the globe.

Rebecca Boustead, Head of Corporate Communications, Government Relations and Public Affairs, Kellogg Asia Pacific, says: “We are looking to find ways to increase our impact through partnerships and collaboration. Effective partnerships are critical to delivering measurable, tangible contributions that address the hunger issue. We know that kids who eat breakfast have improved cognitive performance, particularly in the domains of memory and attention, and the effect is even larger in undernourished children”.

Through the AVPN network, Kellogg has found like-minded partners that play to each other’s strengths. An example is “Bright Start for Better Days” in India. The pilot, launched in 2018, now feeds 2,000 children breakfast five days a week, with the aim to scale up later this year.

Boustead is crystal clear: “The more people from different backgrounds that we bring together to brainstorm solutions, the more likely we will be able to sustainably solve issues like hunger”.

To engage in and contribute to the discussion, join these speakers at the AVPN Conference 2019 nutrition related sessions.


About Author
Christina Ameln
Christina Ameln CSR/Sustainability Advisor / Member of the Board of Advisors Ameln & Co. AB / LIN Center for Community Development

Christina Ameln is a Senior Advisor and Founder of Ameln & Co. She consults on and manages CSR and Sustainability projects for companies as well as multilateral and non-profit organizations. Some of her most recent engagements include: working with UNDP on the integration of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into corporate supply chains in Vietnam; advising a Singaporean private equity company on the setting up an impact investment fund; and working with the LIN Center for Community Development in Vietnam to convene the “go-to” annual conference on partnerships, impact and sustainability in Vietnam.

Prior to running her consultancy, Ameln led the CSR arm in the sustainability department of the Swedish hygiene and forestry company SCA. In this capacity, one of Ameln's notable accomplishments was to ensure that the Code of Conduct was revamped, integrated throughout the business, regularly monitored. She also worked closely on its Sustainability Reports and set up new compliance foundations internally and with SCA suppliers.

At Hifab International, a consultancy and project management company, Ameln worked as a CSR Specialist. In that capacity she helped companies understand best practices and was trained on SA8000 auditing. At the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GBC), a not-for-profit corporate membership organization that mobilizes the private sector in the fight against the three pandemics, she developed member corporations' CSR footprints and best-practice policies in her role as Senior Manager, Corporate Strategies & Member Services. Many companies were from the Fortune 500 list. This was led by the late Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, former United States Ambassador to the United Nations and President Obama's former special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Ameln has an MBA from Nottingham University and a BBA from the University of Kent at Canterbury. Ameln works to connect all sectors for a resilient Vietnam and sits on the Board of Advisors of LIN Center for Community Development (an AVPN member). She also writes regularly about sustainability and is author of the Aya & Bobby illustrated children's books on travel and discovery.